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$1 million lesson!
by F. A. Hutchison
Issue 13
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A recent title to an editorial in 'China Daily,' probably the most widely read English-speaking publication in China: 'As we get wealthier, do we get happier?'

I read the editorial (in the February 11-12th edition) and had to respond to this question, as I talk about this subject all the time in 'The Daily Dosage.' Today's 'Dose,' entitled, 'The $1-million dollar lesson!'

I have some experience in China now, almost a year, and from Shanghai to Kashigar (the length of the country from east to west). Thus, I have some idea what's going on in China (bursting capitalism). I lived the majority of my life in the U.S., so I know what went on there (while I was there: 1940 to 2004). Now, a declining culture of capitalism. But, in the 1960's, the U.S., much like it is now in China!

It may amaze my friends there in the U.S. and other places, to learn I had made one million U.S. dollars before the age of 30!. I'd had a plan, from the time I was 17-years old, and that to work in television in New York City, and my plan worked! 'Moon River, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style some day!' my inspiration, the movie 'Breakfast at Tiffany's!' Inspiration is important!

I wasn't a particularly bright kid, just persevering! I could (and still can) out work most people, and with the tenacity of a 'Gila Monster!' (1)

By the time I was but 18-years old I was directing the 'live-live,' news strip at a TV station in Tucson, Arizona. Not exactly 'prime time,' but I learned some key things, some basic things, as I had thoughtful 'bosses.' I got this job at the TV station, when my friends said I'd never work in television.

I attended the University of Arizona, as it was there where I lived, and inexpensive for 'townies' of which I was one. Simultaneously, I joined ROTC (Reserve Officer's Training Corps.), which meant studying military science.

However, I used my subsequent commission and 'tour of active duty,' more advantageously than most. I ended up stationed in New York City, being assigned to the Army Pictorial Center (in Long Island City)-thus using the skills I'd learned working at an NBC affiliate. Not only did I 'shoot' 35MM film at the Pictorial Center, but made friends across the East River in 'The City.' One in a million for any Second Lieutenant in the Army, circa. 1963!

But, as an example of my tenacity, I must tell you how I managed to get assigned to this unusual military 'post.' I remember there were people in the U.S. Army, who didn't even know this facility existed! I did, however, and thus when it came time to select where I wanted to be 'stationed,' I knew what to put on the form: U.S. (domestic) and the 'lst Army Area' (New York City). They didn't let you pick the exact 'post,' just the Continent and the Army area.

But, boy was I shocked when I got my orders for the 1st Army Communications Complex in Bullville, N.Y. (roughly 100 miles northwest of New York City)!

After recovering from shock, and never giving up my dream, I devised another plan! Luckily, at the time I was studying the 'care and feeding' of teletype machines at Fort Monmouth, N.Y. But, fortuitously this Army post just happened to have a major television facility.

Thus, I went and presented myself to its 'CO,' or 'boss,' of this Army TV facility and plead my case! He was most kind and had some useful ideas. One, he would write a letter for me, and secondly he suggested I go to Washington, D.C. to the Pentagon (with this letter).

Now, for those of you who know, maybe have been in the military, you might understand the Pentagon, the five-sided building housing all the services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C. (most recently attacked on 9/11/02). Usually, there's a line of limousines a mile long at the VIP entrance. Additionally, there's so much rank and 'brass,' in the building they use Lieutenant Generals (one-star) to sweep up the floors (as 'janitors').

Here I was the lowly of the lowliest (a Second Lieutenant) requesting my orders be changed (unheard of)! But, 'hudspaw,' (Marty will know how to spell the Yiddish!) works! I plead my case, as having five years experience at a commercial TV station, and it would be a waste of taxpayer's money to have me in Bullville! Amazingly, it worked! My orders were 'recut,' (the military expression), and I was assigned to the 'Pic Center,' as we called it.

During my active tour of duty at the Pictorial Center, which took me all over the world, I planned my next move: to get a job at one of the television networks across the East River in 'the City!' I had my heart set on working in the 'big time!' Impossible, most said!

Ah, I love the word, now used by 'Adidas,' in their AD campaign (at least in China: 'Impossible is nothing!'). I remember I would respond to such negativity with, 'Watch me!'

I found out personally, that perseverance, is in fact, omnipotent! In order to get the job I wanted at ABC Sports, Inc, I called my 'boss to be,' a guy named Chuck Howard every day for six months, every day mind you! I remember the Director of ABC TV Personnel, telling me to give up, that I'd never get a job in Sports (he'd been trying himself for several years).

After getting the job on the 28th Floor, at 1330 Avenue of the Americas, it was all 'downhill!' after that! Money flowed like the Chateau Lafite Rothschild (2) I grew to love! I lived like the 'other half' (rich people) live, but guess what! Well, several things…

First, I'd been taught how to 'get there' (ambition) but never how to deal with it, once I 'got there!' Thus, here I was with high-rolling 'assholes,' (rich and powerful people) and beginning to hate myself!

This led to a form of depression that caused me drink excessively. I can't really explain my behavior during this period of my life, except bizarre (I didn't know what to do.)!

Here I was on top of the world, flying first class, producing sporting events all over the world, and I should have been ecstatic! But, I wasn't! There was so much 'bullshit,' at that 'high' level, I was drowning in it! It takes a certain kind of person to 'swim with sharks;' to swallow that kind of bullshit! I simply didn't have the ability, nor did I want to acquire it! Thus, I started telling them (my bosses) what they didn't want to hear, and soon became PNG ('persona non grata').

The upshot, I got fired from ABC! Amazingly, this turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened! I'm still amazed, how life appears at one 'stage,' only to appear completely differently at another 'stage!' I went on to work for the other television networks (wouldn't give up), only to discover, I was right the first time! I was in the wrong place.

There's absolutely no integrity in 'that game!' The old coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi had said it, 'Winning isn't the only thing, it's everything!' In that 'league,' (network television) the 'means justify the ends!' I saw people 'killed,' and over money, over a job! I saw lives ruined nee 'Death of a Salesman!' (by Arthur Miller). My bosses back at KVOA/4 in Tucson, hadn't mentioned anything about this, prepared me for anything like this! And I couldn't 'stomach' it! I couldn't compete in this 'league,' saddled with my old-fashioned western morality! Who would have ever thought!

I got out of network television and New York City and saved my life! I started giving away all that I had amassed, from cash to clothing, and the less I had, the better I began to feel!

Now, some forty years later, I have very little, and I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life! I don't own anything, nor have any kind of insurance, but live basically on a bicycle and my meager SSA check (that I earned (3)). How to explain?

Thus, when you pose this question to me, 'As we get wealthier, do we get happier?' I can tell you from experience that I didn't get 'happier,' but unhappier. Money, and we all need a requisite amount to live, can buy some security, but that's all. If that's your idea of 'happiness,' so be it, it wasn't mine!

Of course, you can hardly tell any young person this (be they Chinese or American), their appetites whetted with 'fame and fortune!,' the beauty queen or king,' the big car and the big house, with endless luxury! (4) How can you explain to them this is the worst thing that could ever happen to them…? You can't, so I don't, it's not my business to tell them (directly)!

What I try to do with young people (or any that ask) is to tell my story, and help them develop and empower them to discover their own destinies.

I think what's important in life is living to discover your own destiny! But, you have to discover and evolve on your own! Experience is all! I have a University degree, but learned little from all the years of formal education! What I value is a 'Ph.D.' from the 'School of Hard Knocks!' my mother called it!

Many people tried to explain to me what it was like at 'the top,' (getting $ rich) but I couldn't hear when I was growing up! I had to experience it for myself. I had to live my own life to discover what's important to me, and to 'allow' my destiny to evolve! I had to 'fail,' my way to (my) 'success!'

There's one very important thing to learn, and that is that each of you has a 'destiny!' Each of you has something to do, to learn, to create, to understand! That consciousness is the most important thing you can acquire (worth billions, trillions of dollars). Yet, you can't buy it with money. Only with 'blood, sweat, and tears!' Maybe with a little (actually a lot of) help from that 'thing,' that unseen, unheard, un-material thing, that if I named it (for you), it would lose its power!

Some religions called it 'God!' I'm not into religions!

I'm a mystic! And mystics don't believe in 'middlemen!' (priests, ministers, gurus, or popes). They believe in going directly to the 'Source' (beyond words) and having a 'relationship with 'that.' I don't go to church nor read a book describing 'it.' I'm writing a book of my own!

I've discovered something sublime, yet ineffable! Something that will take hundreds of years to get into main stream consciousness (long after I have no ego body)! I've tried to explain to some of my more enlightened friends, but they don't get it, they're not ready! And who am I to 'sell' it!

One of Rumi's (5) great lines, only discovered 800 years after he 'lost his ego body:' 'How can I sell sorrow, when you know it's good for them?'

Now, who would have ever known, least of all me, about such matters! I wanted to get $ rich, make a million dollars before I was 30-years of age, get the beauty queen and live happily ever after! But it turned out that the money wasn't important, the lesson was! So, I got a 'million-dollar lesson!'

Now, I'm genuinely 'rich!' 'Rich' beyond explaining!

Unfortunately, for the world (circa 2006), 'money has become God,' and how they get it, a 'religion!' But, you don't have to listen to such! You can be different! You can create something everlasting!

We can create something everlasting together!

Let us 'Make magic together!'

How? By unlocking your potential! Daring to live, to risk, to get out of that small 'box' you think in! Do what I did, dare to 'fail your way to your success!'

That's what life is all about!

'Those who are not busy being born, are busy dying!' (Bob Dylan)

Be 'busy being born!' And, all the time!

Seek the unknown, by creating a life worth living, by giving to others (less 'fortunate'), by discovering who you really are!

'Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all!' (Helen Keller)

Dare to have a great adventure! You've but one life to live as your name!

Join us! Let us 'Make magic together!'

1 Gila Monsters, a small desert lizard that get their name from the fact that once them clamp down on something with their jaws, they never release (have to be killed to be removed).
2 A French red Bordeaux wine.
3 People inadvertently believe that this is a government 'dole,' but not! You pay into this fund for years, and are entitled to collect it (at age 62)! A good idea, FDR had!
4 Just like I was!
5 My favorite 12thC. Sufi poet.
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